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What American Pickers Was Really Like Before History Picked Up The Show

It's become a common component of unscripted television to highlight jobs most people probably didn't even know existed previously. "Gold Rush" proves gold mining is still alive and well in the 21st century as crews venture into the Yukon to see what they can salvage. "Ice Road Truckers" shows the perilous lengths some drivers will go to in order to deliver their wares. And before "American Pickers" made its way to History, most people probably had no idea you could travel around the country buying antiques out of people's garages to turn around and sell for a profit.

Picking isn't something Mike Wolfe does for the cameras. For him, it's a way of life as the proud owner of Antique Archaeology with locations in Le Claire, Iowa and Nashville, Tennessee. Wolfe's been in this line of work for quite some time now, and the road to getting "American Pickers" on History has been a long time coming.

Mike Wolfe pitched the show for years before it was picked up

"American Pickers" has become a golden egg for History. The show premiered in 2010 and continues to pull in a ton of viewers. It would initially seem like any network would love to get its hands on the show, but as tends to be the case, those networks didn't know what they had when it was pitched initially. Mike Wolfe described the process of filming himself on the road picking antiques to Bicycling, "I was traveling all over the country, coming back with all this great stuff — bikes, motorcycles, Vespas, gas-station signs from the thirties, anything I thought I could make a buck on. And I had these amazing stories from people I met on the road, so I started making home movies, showing them to friends and putting them online."

Wolfe clearly knew he had something special on his hands, and he just needed the right home for it. That's easier said than done in a competitive marketplace, as he went on to say, "I knew it would make a great TV show, but I pitched the idea to every network on cable for four years before History Channel picked us up. Our first show aired January 18, 2010."

That perseverance paid off in a big way. "American Pickers" quickly became one of the most popular unscripted series on television, and now, people all over the globe know what a picker is.